US Army and Marine engineers deployed to the nation’s southern border ahead of the arrival of a caravan of thousands of refugees and migrants are set to start returning home.
Army Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan said the US military troops currently deployed across the US-Mexico border have installed nearly 75 per cent of the obstacles they sought to emplace across various ports of entry, telling Politico, “Once we get the rest of the obstacles built, we don’t need to keep all those engineers here.”
The first troops who were deployed to the region as Donald Trump warned of the migrant caravan’s imminent arrival will start heading home “in the coming days,” Politico reported, long before many of those migrants are able to reach the US-Mexico border — and just two weeks after the 2018 midterm elections.
However, despite the president previously saying the caravan needed to be met with a military presence, the military has resisted several of his requests, and now reportedly views the mission of those troops as nearly completed.
For example, Mr Buchanan said Monday the military had denied a Department of Homeland Security request for an “armed force” to assist US Border Patrol agents during a possible violent confrontation.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether or not it supported redeploying those troops before a previously set 15 December deadline.
Critics of the Trump administration lambasted the White House’s calls to deploy as many as 15,000 troops to the southern border — a larger presence than that in Afghanistan — ahead of the midterms, calling it an election ploy designed to undermine the Democratic Party and its position on immigration.
Mr Trump further stirred controversy just before the election by falsely insinuating he could revoke the nation’s practice of providing birthright citizenship without amending the US Constitution.
He also signed an order denying migrants who arrived between ports of entry the possibility of asylum, defying US immigration laws. That order was blocked by US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco on Monday, who issued a temporary restraining order and said in his ruling current law allows migrants to apply for asylum “whether or not at a designated port of arrival”.
The general overseeing the US-Mexico border deployment added that logistics troops will also be among the first troops to return home once the ports of entry have all been fortified by the military. He added that the troops’ withdrawal will likely be quieter than their deployment, with virtually all recently deployed troops leaving the region by Christmas.
“As soon as I’m done with a capability, what I intend to do is redeploy it,” he said. “I don’t want to keep these guys on just to keep them on.”